Gators return to the road

It's another weekend on the road for No. 8 Florida. After traveling to Tucson to face Arizona last Saturday night, the Gators will travel to Kansas City to face Kansas State on Saturday at 8 p.m. Florida head coach Billy Donovan has never been against traveling, and doing so just before his players go separate ways to spend Christmas with their families might be the best time to leave Gainesville.

"Going away and traveling can sometimes be healthy," Billy Donovan said. "When you're playing at home, sometimes those guys can be worried about when they're leaving and flights. Our guys know right now we're going on the road and then flying back. Our focus should be totally on Kansas State, and I think it will be."

The game will serve as a return game for when Kansas State traveled to face Florida in Miami as a part of the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic during the 2010-11 season. Since that game wasn't played in Gainesville, Saturday's game will also be played at a neutral site — the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

The Gators won a low-scoring affair in 2010. The style of game doesn't look to change on Saturday. Kansas State is still built the same way, despite head coach Frank Martin leaving to take the head coach job at South Carolina in the offseason.

First-year head coach Bruce Weber has the Wildcats playing the same way. They're 12th in the country, averaging 54.6 points allowed on defense per game and second in the country in three-point field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot 22.2% from distance this year.

"With Frank Martin at Kansas State, they were a really good defensive team and offensive rebounding team," Donovan said. "I'm sure a lot of those great qualities that Frank put in, Bruce has taken over at K-State. He's a terrific coach that has probably added his own wrinkles. They're a veteran group of guys that have been around."

With both teams in the top 12 in the country in scoring defense, the game doesn't figure to be a high-scoring affair. If there's one player on the court that can turn it into that, it's Kansas State guard Rodney McGruder. The senior guard can score with his jump shot or by attacking the rim. He's averaging 13.3 points this season to lead the Wildcats.

"We've had a chance to play against a lot of different, really good players. McGruder may be the best player individually we've played against this year," Donovan said. "(He's a) preseason player of the year candidate that has played a lot of games since day one. He's very talented and gifted.

"He can really score in a lot of different ways. They run a lot of different screening action for him. He's a terrific player all the way around."

It will be Florida's first game in a dome this season, which can also help for the postseason. This year's two road games have been in arenas at Florida State and Arizona. The later rounds of the NCAA Tournament can be played in domes like the Georgia Dome or the Superdome in New Orleans.

Donovan said the Southeastern Conference has made a conscious decision to focus on playing the conference tournament in a dome if possible to prepare teams for the NCAA Tournament. Saturday's game will be another one that prepares the Gators for what is to come in March.

"It's good. Them coming to play us in Miami was pretty much a home game for us. Even though we're not going to play them in Manhattan, Kansas, it's still pretty much a home game for them. It worked out that way."

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